Adobe pushes automatic silent updates for Reader

Summary:The company has made automatic updates the default setting for Reader users, after seeing a number of attacks on PCs loaded with older, flawed versions of the PDF-reading software

Adobe is pushing users to adopt automatic updates for Reader on Windows, in the hope of stemming the tide of security attacks related to people using older versions of the PDF-reading software.

Adobe update

Adobe is pushing users to adopt automatic updates for Reader. Photo credit: Adobe

The software maker introduced a default setting for automatic updates on Tuesday, releasing the feature alongside its quarterly patch bulletin on Tuesday. Automatic updates apply fixes to Reader in the background while people are using their PCs.

"With today's update, we are entering the next phase in the rollout by turning the automatic update option on by default for all Adobe Reader users on Windows," Adobe wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.

With the move, the software maker is getting more aggressive about pushing its updates out to users, many of whom stay with older versions of Reader even though these have security flaws. The widely used software has frequently been the target of hackers, and the company has released three out-of-band security fixes for vulnerabilities in Reader since its March quarterly advisory.

"The vast majority of attacks we are seeing are exploiting software installations that are not current with the latest security updates. We therefore believe that the automatic update option is the best option for most end users and strongly encourage users to choose this option," Adobe said.

The next time the Adobe updater detects that fixes are available, it will present Windows users with a dialog box suggesting they turn on automatic background updates. People can also decline to use the feature.

The vast majority of attacks we are seeing are exploiting software installations that are not current with the latest security updates.

– Adobe

Adobe introduced automatic updates in April 2010, but decided not to make it the default setting at the time. Instead, the default option was for semi-automatic updates: fixes were automatically downloaded, but users could choose whether to install them. Automatic updating was an option, but needed to be manually chosen.

Windows users can manually install the feature update for Reader by visiting the Adobe website or by running the Adobe software update tool. Automatic Reader updates are not possible on Apple Mac OS X machines, as users have to enter a password before installing new software.

Alongside the feature update, Adobe delivered security patches for Reader, ColdFusion, Shockwave and Flash. The software maker sends out a patch bulletin once every quarter, but often issues out-of-band emergency fixes when vulnerabilities are discovered that pose significant risks or are being exploited in the wild.

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Topics: Developer


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